When I was younger, growing up in the church, prayer to me was very much just a "Dear God, please keep my friends and family safe and don't let anything bad happen in the world. Amen." Pretty great, right? Since then, I have grown a lot and my relationship with God is completely different.
Until I was a teenager, God was just an idea, not a real person. To be honest, around the time I was fourteen, I remember being at a summer camp and having the most amazing day and then praying that night, like I always did but feeling like God didn't hear me. Like he didn't care about what I had to say and honestly, wasn't even there. That feeling scared me and followed me for the next four years. I didn't believe in God at all. I still went to church every Sunday, I still went to summer camps, but I just didn't feel it anymore.
However, when I went to college, I knew something was missing. Then, when I went to the summer camp I grew up at as a camp counselor, I realized what it was. But it was hard to get back into a relationship with someone I had tried to avoid for the past five years. That's when a fellow staff member introduced the idea of a prayer journal. I thought she was brilliant (I still do, actually). It made perfect sense to me though! As a writer, it was easy to just write everything I was feeling and thinking and hoping for and leaving it all on the page for God. Since then, that's mostly how my prayer life has been. Prayer journals have been filled and replaced over the years but the relationship with God has only grown because of them.
I also am a big fan of the "thought prayer" idea and practice that more often than not. I know that a lot of people don't consider this "active praying" and that it's not the proper way to come to God but this isn't their relationship to judge. God knows what's between me and Him and for now, the thoughts and the journal is how we do it. I recently bought a copy of A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor (one of my favorite writers) and it's made me realize how beautiful these little letters to God are. How our relationship is growing, how it has changed and how it is fine the way it is. I might miss a day or two, but God is like one of those friends you can just pick up with where you last left off without missing a beat. And when I miss a day, that's where the thought prayers pick up for the in-between times.
What's your prayer life like?
What do you think of a prayer journal?